2nd Terms a Wrap!
Spring Break Projects
We wrapped up 2nd term with a few American Spring Break Projects coming into the City to serve with us. Students from USC (California), Ohio, and a team of students from Bridges all came to take Jesus to our campuses here in London. One of the great things about these small project teams is that they come with a lot of excitement and energy when we as staff are feeling the exhaustion of keeping the plow to the ground. I was able to spend some time with the Ohio teams sharing the Gospel with students and seeking new Christians to join our community if they were not plugged in anywhere. If you like stats, in one week, the Ohio team recorded approaching 231 students, 39 conversations using Perspective Cards, 38 gospel conversations, and 51 key volunteer challenges (questions seeking new student leaders) with over 24 nationalities. I spent a few hours with them, and on one occasion, we approached a Russian student studying something in the Biomedical world. Surprisingly he was very keen to talk. While we shared the Gospel with him (I mostly prayed and jumped in where appropriate), I could tell we were giving him some food for thought. I think he may have been confused whether he was atheist or agnostic based on how he was using the words. He “believed that there was a god, but i’m atheist,” is what he said a few times. But it was great to plant those seeds and watch him really think about what we were saying. A few years ago Jana and I watched a show called Lie to Me, based on the true story of a man that perfected reading micro-expressions and body language. I find it funny that I constantly am trying to read people in the same way. Based on my very non-technical and untrained skill in reading body language and micro-expressions, I’d say he walked away really thinking about what we said! Lots of stories like this from the week they were here of us casting seeds of the gospel, praying the God will lead us to good soil. Pray for the students here, because it seems we run into more hard hearts that not at times. While students are usually very respectful, one student and I had four girls respond only by laughing at us.
The students from USC (California) spent time on Imperial College doing a bit of surveying and seeking Christians on campus to see if we can get something going there. I was told by the team that the information that they gathered is that this would be a prime campus for the hope of the Gospel. Students they spoke to struggled with depression, overwhelming workloads, and other stresses. Apparently, Imperial College has the highest suicide rate than all campuses in London. Two of the students are coming back mid-May to lead a larger Summer Mission to Imperial College to continue the work they started. Another staff member and myself be involved in serving and helping lead through their time. Pray the God would raise up Christians to join us and become multiplying disciplemakers to take the hope of the gospel to that campus.
“Mr. Abrahim” and his amazing mural. Pray for Mr. Abrahim to know Jesus and that he will be able to join his family soon.
Long Break and a 3rd Term?
April was a funny month for university students in London. Basically, students take the month of April to go home and study for their exams in the month of May, aptly named “3rd Term.” What the month of April is for staff, is a time for rest and short-term missions.
I was privileged to go to Thessaloniki, Greece to serve in a Refugee camp. It was a great opportunity to turn an idea, a headline, a fear, into a human, a father, a mother, a child, an artist, a banker, an “everyday joe,” a friend. There are, of course, a lot of ideas running around the world about refugees. Some could be true and some false. What’s more true than any news article is that these are people made in the image of God, and they have experienced massive loss. A two year old girl with a huge grin ran up to me and one of our team and gave us this huge welcoming hug, grabbed our hands and walked with us. I looked into that little girls eyes and felt all kinds of emotions. She has no idea whats going on around her, but it was hard to know that she would someday find out. She was at a good camp with her family as many have brutal conditions. As we spoke to a refugee working in Thessaloniki that started a small school for children, we learned that in Athens, massive amounts of kids have gone missing and not seen again after being picked up by the mafia. At this point, I just think I am experiencing a really bad movie. But it’s reality that hundreds and thousands of people are facing.
I was able to spend quite a bit of time with a Syrian man and try to make out a little of his story. He was an art teacher for 25 (or 35 years) before he and his family were run out of the country, only taking what he could carry (which was most likely a child). It seems his wife and children have already been sent elsewhere into Europe to start new lives, but they have been separated for over 6 months as he awaits his own forced chance at a new life. We spent a lot of time painting a mural together. He actually erased 95% of what I sketched, which was hilarious and very satisfying to see him own it. He would sing while he sketched and painted. I was glad to bring a bit of joy to his life as he endured such hardship. By the time we left, he and I had become friends. He hugged me and kissed me on the cheek as I was saying goodbye. One of the Samaritan Purse workers told me that it was a very special thing he did and that he accepts me as family. Maybe we will see each other again. I hope so. There were very strict UN rules about sharing the gospel while in the camp. The people knew we were Christians, but that was about all we could say. It was an opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus, and pray that itself would speak volumes.
Early May, I was amazingly blessed to take a weekend trip back to the States to pin on Marlan Campbell to 2Lt in the USAF! It was so amazing to see such a brilliant young man that I got to be a part of his story for 3 years become the man he is today. He was one of my cadets that came into the Citadel and left it a much better place. Now, he carries Jesus into the Air Force as a Aircraft maintenance officer where he will be able to love and influence so many airmen. Pray for him as he starts this new journey!
As we start to close out the year, we are so appreciative of everyone who is partnering with us in giving and in prayer. We have had a somewhat difficult year on the mission field, but your prayers have been felt and heard. We were asked if we were going to continue for the next year, and of course we said yes. If it weren’t difficult, it wouldn’t be the mission field.
Pray for our Students as the go off for the Summer- Alex and James at Kings. Alex will be working during the Summer here in London. I hope to continue to get to meet up once a week or so. James is headed back home a few hours North of here, so I wont get to spend as much time with him. He will be heading to South Africa for a Mission at some point. We have several new leaders on our other campuses going into next year as well. This is a huge answer to prayer! Please pray for them as well!
We are deciding if we will stay with our church or not. The only couple we really connect with are thinking of leaving to join a smaller church (which we completely understand). We have been a part of intimate small churches for the past 12 years. All Souls is an amazing church, but we haven’t found the intimacy we so enjoyed at Sanctuary or Two Rivers. Pray for wisdom in the decisions.
Pray for us as we ponder the future of our time in England after the next year. We only have one more year left on our Visa, but we will have to make the decision for the next steps around December. We have two, hopefully three, options on the table. 1) Come back to the States. 2) Continue with Student Life and reapply next Summer 2018 when we are home. 3) Help establish a new Cru ministry in England if Agapé is interested.
Pray for a treatment that is coming up for Jimmy. Thanks for all the prayers and encouragement with the last update. The spinal fluid came back normal, which doesn’t change the diagnosis. The neurologist was not optimistic but is willing to go ahead with the IVIG treatment to see if it has any effect. Sorry for the week of silence after. It was a time of processing through the disappointment. The spinal fluid test was not a conclusive test, so there is still a possibility of the IVIG working. Please pray that the treatment is successful. We will update everyone when it is scheduled.
Praise that we have a holiday planned! The nice thing about living on this side of the world is that so many amazing places are accessible. For the cost of 7 tanks of gas (in America), we were able to get airline tickets to Menorca, Spain. Google it. So beautiful. We will get to spend 7 amazing days together right on the beach. Please pray for this time to be relaxing and refreshing.